The head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said that an expansion of programmes to train German-speaking imams is long overdue in the country and religious education ultimately can help immunise against extremism
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Tuesday said that the latest terror attacks in France and Austria will not hamper the cooperation between the government and Germany's Muslim community.
"We won't let terrorism and extremism derail us," Seehofer said praising this year's "German Islam Conference" for German-speaking imams in the city of Osnabrück as a significant contribution towards preventing radicalization, reports the Deutsche Welle.
The Interior Ministry-funded project is "money well-spent for societal cohesion in our country," Seehofer said.
The focus of this year's theological conference is on imam training in Germany. The conference is taking place digitally due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Participants in the conference will debate and offer up solutions on a range of topics, including Islamic religion classes in schools and the training that Islamic preachers receive — as well as what language should be used in German mosques.
Since 2006, the annual meeting has sought to encourage dialogue between the German government and representatives from the country's Muslim community.
Bülent Ucar, director of the Institute for Islamic Theology at the University of Osnabrück, said that training would not be enough — the programme's graduates need to get positions in mosques as well.
Earlier ahead of the conference, Aiman Mazyek, head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said that an expansion of programmes to train German-speaking imams is long overdue in the country and religious education ultimately can help immunise against extremism.
He said that many extremists had turned their backs on mosques and other Islamic institutions which makes them harder to reach. But Muslim communities could help with religious counselling and prevention — particularly for the families of extremists.
Providing more support and care for families could help "win back" the people who are closest to those who have been radicalised, he argued.